My household’s energy usage dropped 19% in 2011

I got a letter from my utility company Saturday morning. Inside was a chart, comparing our household’s energy usage from 2010 and 2011. It dropped 19 percent.

Considering our total bill for 2011 was over $900, that’s hardly chump change.

That got me thinking about how we dropped our usage that much. I know two things I did in late 2010 that may have made a difference. I used to have a problem with light bulbs only lasting about two months in one of our bathrooms, so I only put the very cheapest bulbs I could possibly find in there. The problem went away after replacing the light switch, so I was able to switch to 7W CFL bulbs in there.

The lights in that bathroom were almost always on (which is why I’ve gone back now and put a motion sensing switch in there), so it’s possible that change alone put a pretty serious dent in our usage.

We also replaced our 32″ CRT with a 32″ LCD TV. LCDs use less power than CRTs of comparable size, but the television also has a feature to turn itself off after a set period of time. If you go a couple of hours without changing a channel or changing the volume, it shuts itself off. And when it shuts itself off, it shuts off the HDMI-connected DVD player with it.

I’m sure I did a few other things too. As bulbs burn out, their replacements inevitably use less power than the old ones did. And when I find leaks, I caulk them up.

We spent more on the TV than we saved on electricity of course, but some of the things we did weren’t expensive. The new light switch cost a dollar. The bulbs needed to be replaced anyway. I did splurge on a couple of LED bulbs in October 2011, but most of the bulbs I bought that year were CFL bulbs from Home Depot or Costco like I’ve been buying for the last few years.